The Electoral College is still necessaryBy Sarah Howard | 11/21/2016 9:48am
CW / Kylie Cowden
The Electoral College is a constitutional institution, even though it is not necessarily named as such. It was originally outlined in Article II, Section 1 of the constitution and the process was later updated through the addition of the Twelfth Amendment. Our Founding Fathers believed that the Electoral College was a process vital to the survival of our country, and I agree. In order to explain and outline the intention behind each element of the Constitution, John Jay, James Madison and now-pop culture icon Alexander Hamilton wrote several essays titled “The Federalist Papers.” Number 68, likely written by Hamilton himself, goes into explicit detail regarding the purpose of delegated electors casting votes rather than a popular election. One of the most important reasons was to prevent a corrupt president from taking office, ensuring that the electors would be a small group of people without any government position, minimizing the possibilities for a president to ask for re-election as a quid pro quo.
The significance of the Electoral College is furthered by understanding that a candidate who can earn the vote of multiple states, each with their own personality, was more practical than one who pandered solely to a large populous area.
Alexander Hamilton wanted to create a system where the president was elected by the people, but not directly. This is one of the most vital differences in a complete democracy and the representative republic that the United States of America truly is. The concept of a popular vote that defines a democracy is one that might seem fair, and Hillary Clinton’s win over the popular vote has sparked an outrage due to perceived injustice caused by the current electoral process.
I was surprised as any about Donald Trump’s election to the presidency; the polls had been in Clinton’s favor for weeks. I believe that the polls were off because of the social stigma in existence across the country for people that supported Trump. To be vocal about supporting Trump meant accepting that you would be called a racist, xenophobe or bigot. When asked directly about their position on a presidential candidate, it cannot be denied that people respond differently than they did in the privacy of a voting booth.
The logic behind Trump’s eventual election is for a different day, but for now I want to say that without the Electoral College it is possible that Hillary Clinton still would not have won the presidency. When a person resides in a state that has historically sided with one party overwhelmingly, their individual vote might feel “wasted” to the point where it is not worth their time to even cast a ballot. In a government system sans-electors, a vote from any state holds the exact same weight and there could very well be larger voter turnout as well. Trump supporters in “blue” states might have avoided voting in this election and if they hadn’t, the popular vote might have ended up in his favor as well.
I am in no way saying that the popular vote is unbiased compared to our current process, rather I am saying the exact opposite. A president who merely needs to reach a majority of citizens would only need to visit high-population areas, typically urban ones with pointedly different interests than those from rural areas. Our government would effectively be elected and controlled by a few certain areas and the rest could be ignored for all practical purposes. Our country was founded on the voices of the many and since day one the Electoral College has served in this specific interest.
Sarah Howard is a junior majoring in chemistry. Her column runs biweekly.